ANTI-SMOKING ADS: State Unveils New Campaign
California's top health officials yesterday unveiled a comprehensive package of 25 TV and print ads, including two that emphasize the link between impotence and smoking, USA Today reports. The campaign will spend $24 million to feature ads in English, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese (Wells, 6/2). The Los Angeles Times reports that one of the new ads "portrays a black-tie gala" with a "debonair man wearing a tuxedo eye[ing] an elegant young woman dressed in a clinging gown. She gazes at him. He lights a cigarette. His cigarette goes limp. She smirks, shakes her head and walks away." The narrator of the commercial says, "Now that medical researchers believe cigarettes are a leading cause of impotence, you're going to be looking at smoking a little differently." The tagline reads, "Cigarettes. Still think they're sexy?" State Health Director Kim Belshe said that "preachy appeals about smoking's connection to cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure may not deter young men from smoking," but "[m]aybe they'll be more inclined to quit to save their sex lives." Dr. Christopher Evans, a professor of urological surgery and oncology at University of California-Davis, called smoking the "most preventable cause" of impotence and cited "a medical study reporting that smokers had a 50% higher incidence of impotence than nonsmokers" (Morain, 6/2).
Other counter-tobacco advertisements include a commercial showing how cigarette ads "might appeal to underage smokers." USA Today reports that "a Camel ad depicts an attractive woman with a Camel logo on her hand. 'Has the tobacco industry really stopped marketing to kids or is it just getting smarter?' a voice over asks" (6/2). In another ad, a 60-year-old smoker with terminal lung cancer says from his hospital bed: "They can bury their victims, but they can't bury the truth" (Lucas/Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/2). Additional television spots focus on "tobacco industry marketing tactics, tobacco industry statements revealed in recent lawsuits and secondhand smoke" (release, 6/1).
The statewide campaign is funded by money raised under Proposition 99, "a 1988 ballot measure that raised tobacco taxes to fund a variety of antismoking, health and environmental programs" (Hettena, AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/2). Belshe said, "Because of the tobacco education and prevention campaign that grew out of this voter-mandated initiative, the state has enjoyed unprecedented success in the battle against tobacco. Today, California has the second lowest adult smoking prevalence rate in the nation, next to Utah." Belshe added that "throughout California, community, county and regional programs, and statewide ethnic networks, work together to administer the state's comprehensive, long-term tobacco education and prevention programs. From the beginning, the media campaign has provided strong support to these grassroots efforts" (release, 6/1). However, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that long-time critics of the Wilson administration's approach to the public education campaign complained that the ads weren't strong enough. American Lung Association lobbyist Paul Knepprath said, "There have been a number of stronger, hard-hitting approaches that have been quashed by the administration." And University of San Francisco professor and leading tobacco industry critic Stanton Glantz said, "Since the department pulled back and toned down the program in 1994, we have seen the first increase in smoking in California since they started collecting data in 1974" (6/2).